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NASA Funds $15m Space Technology Institute on Composite Materials

NASA Funds $15m Space Technology Institute on Composite Materials

  • Tuesday, 9th May 2017
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  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

A team of US researchers and industrial partners have been awarded a five-year, $15 million grant to establish a NASA Space Technology Research Institute (STRI) focused on high performance composite materials.

High performance structures are needed for safe and affordable next generation exploration systems such as transit vehicles, habitats and power systems. These building materials need to be lighter and stronger than those currently used in even the most advanced systems.

The Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design (US-COMP) will aim to develop and deploy a carbon nanotube-based, ultra-high strength, lightweight aerospace structural material within five years. Success will mean a critical change to the design paradigm for space structures. Through collaboration with industry partners, it is anticipated that advances in laboratories could quickly translate to advances in manufacturing facilities that will yield sufficient amounts of advanced materials for use in NASA missions.

Results of this research will have broad societal impacts as well. Rapid development and deployment of the advanced materials created by the institute could support an array of Earth applications and benefit the US manufacturing sector.

US-COMP is a multidisciplinary team of 22 faculty members led by Gregory Odegard, Principal Investigator at the Michigan Technological University, in partnership with Florida State University, University of Utah, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado and Virginia Commonwealth University. Industrial partners include Nanocomp Technologies and Solvay, with the US Air Force Research Lab as a collaborator. 

NASA has selected proposals for the creation of two multi-disciplinary, university-led research STRIs that will focus on the development of technologies critical to extending human presence deeper into the solar system. The second is the Centre for the Utilisation of Biological Engineering in Space (CUBES).


Image provided by NASA


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